What you need to know before taking a Royal Caribbean cruise to Cuba

In:
12Dec2016

You might have heard that Royal Caribbean is now offering cruises to Cuba, but before you step foot in Havana, here are some important bits of information to know.

Who can travel to Cuba?

It is true Royal Caribbean now offers cruises to Cuba, but there are still United States regulations in place that allow for certain types of travel by U.S. persons to Cuba.

Permitted travel is generally classified into 12 categories. If a trip to Cuba meets all of the requirements of one of these 12 categories, you are authorized by OFAC to travel under a “general license,” meaning that you may travel without any additional government approvals.

The general license categories include:

  • Educational activities, including people-to-people travel
  • Humanitarian projects
  • Religious activities
  • Professional research and meetings
  • Family visits
  • Official government business
  • Journalism
  • Public performances, clinics, workshops, exhibitions and athletic competitions
  • “Support for the Cuban people”
  • Activities of private foundations or research for educational institutes
  • Exporting or importing information or “information materials”
  • Travel related to some authorized export transactions

All guests traveling to Cuba must meet the requirements of one of the 12 categories of permitted travel authorized by the United States government. 

People-to-people tours are education-based trips designed to promote interactions between travelers and the Cuban people. People-to-people travel allows for little, if any, free time, as your time will be spent experiencing Cuba at its most authentic, through visits to Cuba’s most sought after destinations.

What about international guests not from the United States?

All guests regardless of country of residence will be required to meet one of the twelve general license categories while onshore in Cuba.

How will I certify I have met one of these requirements?

In accordance with U.S. law, all guests (including children) traveling to Cuba will be required to complete a travel affidavit identifying the category of travel under which they are visiting. This must be completed prior to boarding the vessel.

For ease of completion, Royal Caribbean has arranged the affidavit Into 3 parts:

  • Part A: Guests exclusively participating in the Royal Caribbean tour program should select Part A and complete the identification information in the last section.
  • Part B: Guests traveling on a self-guided people-to- people exchange program should select Part B and complete the identification information in the last section. Part B does allow for guests to split their full-day schedule between tours purchased from Royal Caribbean and activities organized on their own.
  • Part C – Guests that have not certified in Part A and B, including those passengers who plan to split their schedule between people-to-people activities offered by Royal Caribbean and activities otherwise meeting the requirements of one of the 12 general licenses, should select Part C and complete the identification information in the last section. 

You will need a Visa to enter Cuba

Guests are required to purchase a visa to travel to Cuba. Royal Caribbean will facilitate this for our guests at a cost of $75 per person.

This fee will be added to your onboard account on Day 1 of the cruise. Each guest will receive their Visa during embarkation in Miami and will be responsible for providing their Visa to the Cuban authorities upon arrival in Cuba.

If a guest loses their Visa, they will be able to purchase a new Visa onboard at an additional cost of $75.

Do I need a passport to visit Cuba?

A passport will be required for all guests sailing to Cuba with us. Guest passports must be valid for six months after their travel date to Cuba.

In order to travel to Cuba, all guests, including children, will be required to have a passport. U.S. Customs and Border Protection will not allow U.S. guests to travel to Cuba with a driver’s license and birth certificate. Guest passports must be valid for six months after their travel to Cuba.

Can Cuban-Americans cruise to Cuba on Royal Caribbean?

Yes. Cuban-American persons born in Cuba are permitted to arrive in Cuba by vessel. However, if you are a Cuban-born traveler, you may need additional documentation.

Those who left Cuba prior to January 1, 1971, must travel to Cuba with their U.S. passports. But unlike U.S. born Americans, they will need a special type of visa; an H1 visa, which they need to apply for prior to travel. The visa application process can take up to 90 days. Cuban-born citizens who came to the U.S. after January 1, 1971, must travel to Cuba using their Cuban passports. They do not need a visa. They do however need to complete a One-Page Entry Request Application.

To learn more, you can visit the Cuban Embassy website (http://www.cubadiplomatica.cu/sicw/EN/ConsularServices.aspx). 

What is it like in Cuba and what can I bring home?

Here is Royal Caribbean's description of Cuba: You will be among the first to explore Cuba with Royal Caribbean. Infrastructure is at a minimum and authenticity is at a premium. The food is rich in culture, but potentially unfamiliar. Walking surfaces may be uneven, and depending on the time of year, the intensity of the heat can be significant.

Guests are generally authorized to bring into the United States merchandise acquired in Cuba for personal use as accompanied baggage.

Any additional tips for visiting Cuba?

  • Drink only bottled water
  • Due to the tropical climate, wear loose fitting airy clothes, comfortable shoes and a hat
  • Only a few places are air conditioned; bring a fan and/or mister
  • Purchase items only from authorized sellers o Exchange money only at CADECAs (Currency exchange houses) or hotels
  • Carry with you
    • Passport
    • Visa
    • SeaPass card
    • Cash